Directed by Bruce Hendricks
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:11080pAVC codec
Running Time: 82 minutes
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 English; Dolby Digital 2.0 English, Spanish, Portuguese
Subtitles: SDH, Spanish, Portuguese
MSRP: $ 35.99
Release Date: August 19, 2008
Review Date: August 9, 2008
I read somewhere that the Hannah Montana franchise will bring in a billion dollars this year for Disney. What with the television series, the film, the CDs, the DVDs, the concerts, and the endless merchandising, I can believe it. But Disney has been doing this for more than seventy years. They have found a formula that works, and they spare no expense in keeping a steady parade of audience favorites performing giving kids and their parents something they can share together. Hannah Montana and Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert gives fans exactly what they want: an up close look at their TV heroine and some backstage time with the girl (along with her family) who brings her to life. The Blu-ray disc offers an opportunity to view the concert film in either regular high definition or in a television version of the 3-D event that was offered in theaters.
The concert itself presents both sides of the talented singer: in her Hannah Montana fictional persona, a teenaged rock star who sells her soft rock with a smile and twinkle, and as Miley Cyrus, the daughter of country singer Billy Ray Cyrus, who is one of the biggest stars for preteens currently performing. Miley is still an early teen, but she knows all she needs to know about performing in front of a vast screaming throng. She makes an instant connection with her audience, banters cheerfully with them, works the immense stage like a veteran, and dances while singing (there may be some prerecording being utilized but it seems slight if it’s there at all). No, the voice hasn’t displayed much shading or many colors yet, but that’s still to come. Right now, she can belt with the best of them and keep her audience upbeat and happy through an entire concert. That’s a great accomplishment.
The movie, like so many filmed concerts, contains more than just the stage show with its many musicians, backup singers, dancers, and pyrotechnics. We see creator Kenny Ortega and the cast beginning four weeks of grueling rehearsals prior to the tour. We see backstage glimpses of Miley warming up, getting into her make-up and costumes, and hear from her mother who’s her primary dresser backstage. We see an onstage mishap, Miley’s desire to drop the trick from the show, and both the director and her mother encouraging her to trust the dancers to keep her safe. Then we see the number “I Got Nerve” in all its splendor without a single mistake. We see the young fans eagerly awaiting their first Hannah Montana concert. We also see eager fathers participating in a race in high heels to score some precious tickets for the show. (Typically, the tickets for the shows sell out within minutes of going on sale.) One of the most memorable moments in the offstage footage has Miley and Billy Ray sitting down and singing together a bit of a lovely ballad that I kept expecting to show up in the concert. It never does, but for those precious seconds, it’s the best thing in the movie. Director Bruce Hendricks uses multiple cameras to catch all of the singing, prancing, and musicianship skillfully alternating close-ups of the singers with medium and long shots to show the vast audience singing, clapping, cheering, swaying, and swinging with the beat.
The Jonas Brothers, who opened the concert on the road, get a song shared with Hannah and two solo songs of their own in the middle of the concert while Hannah changes into Miley. The Brothers, who for my money don’t have the best voices I’ve ever heard on this kind of music, do a stylish kind of switch off between the lead singers that’s quite unique dividing lines of the vocal between two of the brothers back and forth continually. They are rapidly building their own huge fan base (and just scored with a smash hit TV-movie musical called Camp Rock; expect to see that for sale very shortly), and it won’t be long before they’ll be fronting their own sold out concert tour and likely film of it. As I said, the Disney machine keeps cranking out exactly what the public seems to want.
The 1.85:1 theatrical aspect ratio is reproduced here in a 1080p transfer using the AVC codec. The 2-D version features bold colors, excellent dimensionality, and fine black levels, but there is some surprising aliasing in some of the early rehearsal footage. All of the concert footage, however, looks very solid. The 3-D version (selectable in the user menu) utilizes the red-blue TV/3-D glasses (four pair come in the case), and it certainly works well within the confines of the TV viewing area if one is seated directly in front of the set. Though occasionally the image separates imperfectly and one sees ghosts of the images, in the main, the 3-D effects sometimes make a stunning impact. Hannah’s first sojourn down the long ramp into the audience is awe-inspiring with the reaching hands of the closest spectators adding to the dimensional ambiance. Yes, there are some usual 3-D camera tricks that work: guitar picks and drumsticks flung into the camera, fingers, guitars, microphones, and mic stands thrust into our faces. It works as well as 3-D on TV can work. The film has been divided into 17 chapters.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 audio mix asserts itself from the very beginning with Miley’s vocal warm-up bouncing and echoing around the entire soundfield. The concert sequences put the viewer right into the center of the show with singers front and center but also in the surrounds, the band in other surrounds, and the audience response toned down but audible throughout. Though some might think the LFE channel isn’t quite as thumping as in an adult rock concert (and I’d agree), it’s used in just the right amount for the kind of softer rock that Hannah and the Jonas Brothers are peddling.
The Blu-ray offers 2 bonus songs both in 1080p. The Jonas Brothers sing “S.O.S.” (3 minutes) while Miley sings “Good and Broken” (3 minutes).
The disc offers a sing along mode where the words to eight songs are subtitled on the screen with colors representing words that are being sung to aid at-home karaoke singers.
“The Ultimate Personal Tour” is 11 ½ minutes behind-the-scenes on show day as Miley and the Jonas Brothers arrive at their venue, check wardrobe, and do sound checks before the show begins. It’s presented in 480p.
The disc presents 1080p previews of, among other available Blu-rays or upcoming theatrical features, Sleeping Beauty, Wall-E, Tinker Bell, and Beverly Hills Chihuahua.
The Hannah Montana and Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert is a must for fans of the talented young performer. Far cheaper than a ticket to one of her shows and with some interesting backstage looks into what goes into producing one of these lengthy concert tours, the Blu-ray offers both a 2-D and an at-home 3-D experience that give it a little added value.